Ousting a popular defensive-minded coach, the Titans are starting off their search to replace Mike Vrabel by sending to interview requests to defense-oriented staffers.
Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, Cowboys DC Dan Quinn and Raiders interim HC Antonio Pierce have received requests to meet with Titans brass about the newly vacated job, ESPN’s Adam Schefter and NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport report. This represents more of the same for Glenn, a candidate over the past two years, but new territory for Pierce, who is in only his second season as an NFL coach. Quinn will interview for the job virtually Wednesday, per SI.com’s Albert Breer.
Additionally, Pelissero notes Giants OC Mike Kafka received a Titans interview summons. Ravens DC Mike Macdonald is also on the Titans’ request list, per Schefter. Both young coaches have surged onto the radar in recent years, with Macdonald riding more momentum at this point.
Pierce is on the radar to keep his job in Las Vegas, but the Raiders are understandably targeting higher-profile names. Jim Harbaugh is in the mix to reunite with the first team to give him a shot as an NFL coach, though Raiders HC interview requests have not emerged yet. The franchise is working on its GM role first. Pierce represents an unorthodox candidate, having been moved from linebackers coach to interim HC. The former Super Bowl-winning linebacker had resigned from his Arizona State DC post in 2022, amid an investigation into recruiting violations during the COVID-19 pandemic, but went 5-4 as Raiders interim HC.
Quinn has been a popular figure on the past two coaching carousels, but the Cowboys’ DC jumped off both rides. He had aimed to land the Broncos’ HC job in 2022, but the franchise went through on what became one of this era’s biggest mistakes by hiring Nathaniel Hackett. Producing two more high-end Cowboys defenses since, Quinn now could have a chance to return to the team that raised his profile. The Seahawks have moved on from Pete Carroll, and Quinn — Seattle’s DC from 2013-14 — is expected to be a lead candidate.
Glenn and Quinn overlap in interview requests during this cycle. In addition to the Titans, both have received requests from the Chargers and Commanders. Glenn has managed to attract steady interest despite his Detroit defenses not rivaling Quinn’s Dallas groups in terms of rankings. The Lions have not produced a top-half ranking in scoring or total yardage in Glenn’s three seasons in charge, but the former cornerback is well-regarded — after a run as the Saints’ DBs coach — and interviewed for the Cardinals and Colts’ jobs last year.
Tennessee’s Kafka request is somewhat surprising. Although Kafka was in the mix for the Arizona, Houston and Indianapolis gigs in 2023, the Giants’ offense regressed this season. That said, the team produced a surprising playoff berth behind quality seasons from Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley in 2022. Jones’ injury wounded the Giants this season, as they tumbled from 15th to 30th in points from 2022-23. Still, the Titans will take a look at the former Chiefs assistant soon. No in-person coaching interviews can take place until after the divisional round. Kafka has called plays during both his Giants OC seasons.
Just 36, Macdonald did not receive any interview requests last year. The Ravens’ defensive performance in 2023 has changed the equation, elevating the play-caller’s stock. Baltimore led the NFL in scoring defense this season; Macdonald’s unit has ranked in the top 10 in both points and yards in each of his two seasons in charge. The longtime Ravens position coach-turned-Michigan assistant is on others’ interview lists as well, with the prospect of Baltimore losing both he and first-year OC Todd Monken in play.